Egypt extends opening of Rafah crossing for second time - state agency

Tuesday 16-06-2015 02:58 PM
Egypt extends opening of Rafah crossing for second time - state agency

A Palestinian girl, hoping to cross into Egypt with her mother, is pictured through a fence as she waits at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip December 21, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa


CAIRO, Jun 16 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt will open its Rafah border crossing in both directions for two more days, upon instructions from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, reported the state news agency MENA on Tuesday.

The crossing, which links Egypt's eastern border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip, has been opened in both directions starting Saturday.

It was initially due to remain open for three days. Sisi first ordered an extension for two more days, Tuesday and Wednesday. After the second extension, the crossing should remain open until Friday.

The extension came "in solidarity with the Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip" and to "ease their suffering as per the agreed upon mechanisms," reported MENA.

The border crossing is currently the strip's main exit and entry point. 

Except "partially and intermittently on 15 days", Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing shut down since October, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a recent report.

The weekly average number of individuals crossing into and out of Gaza in 2015 has heavily declined in comparison to the previous year.

In 2014, the weekly average number of individuals crossing into Gaza was 923, while an average of 955 left the strip every week, according to OCHA figures. 

The average number of people entering the strip per week in 2015 is 217, while, on average 144 leave Gaza every week.

The shutdown of the crossing came after militant attacks in Egypt's North Sinai province left over 30 security personnel dead on October 24, 2014, in one of the deadliest militant attacks in Egypt since a wave of insurgency surged in mid-2013.

The border crossing was last opened from May 26 to 28 in one direction, allowing 1629 people to cross into Gaza, according to OCHA figures.

The Gaza strip is home to 1.8 million people and is currently recovering from destruction caused by 50 days of Israeli military operations last summer. 

The densely populated enclave is run by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which took over the strip in 2007. Gaza has been under siege since then. 

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